Five Great Ideas for On-site Search Engine Optimisation

By Lara McPherson | 14 Jun 2010

Is your on-site search engine performing at its peak? Special guest Shaun Ryan, CEO of SLI-Systems, offers up five top tips for revamping your on-site search tools to drive conversions and increase customer value.

At the recent Optimise and Thrive breakfasts in Melbourne and Sydney, guest speaker Shaun Ryan, CEO of SLI-Systems revealed some great tips for ensuring your on-site search engine is performing at its peak. This critical, yet oft-overlooked element of any e-retail site can contribute enormously with a few logical tweaks. I spoke with Shaun, who offered up his top tips for e-commerce businesses to revamp their onsite search tools.

1. Contemplate whether an Autocomplete function would enhance your onsite search engine.

This tool can not only assist your customers in finding what they want, make their search easier and eliminate any issues with misspelled search terms, but can also suggest things they never knew they wanted. By using the first few letters of any search term as a trigger for an onsite search engine, your customers can be lead to products on your site they may not even know are stocked. The power of suggestion should not be underestimated.

2. Consider adding the “Add to Cart” icon to search results page.

Again, removing a step and helping your customer in every instance can have great benefits. “The ‘add to cart’ feature not only saves shoppers an extra click, but it provides a clear path for the next step in the purchase process and offers a call to action on the search results pages,” explains Shaun. “By abbreviating the search and purchase process, your search engine can help to initiate great up-sell opportunities.”

3. Assess which kind of refinements may be appropriate for your site.

Refinements can be effectively utilised and are recommended for retailers with a wide range of products for sale. “Refinements are especially useful if there are several pages of search results for a particular keyword, and are a good way to allow searchers to sort results by various criteria, like price range, brand or category,” explains Shaun.

4. Determine the best way to display search results and extra product information and always ensure accurate and relevant search results.

As is becoming increasingly evident, online consumers have very short attention spans and want maximum information for minimum effort. They are unlikely to persist with a search if it is not returning the information they need to make a purchase. The way you display your search results and product information can therefore be key in securing a sale. “There are some interesting statistics available on list vs grid display for search results and while each have their benefits, one thing that is consistent with both is that the first result tends to have easily the most clicks through, with the following results falling away in terms of clicks,” says Shaun. As always, relevance and simplicity are key in the online space. Ensuring relevant and accurate detail on product will encourage the prolonged attention of your shoppers, lead them to other products and help close a sale in the absence of pushy sales staff.

5. Don’t underestimate the importance of non-product and user-generated content.

With a huge shift in the way shoppers interact with online content, comes a renewed focus on non-product content generated by your own consumers. This content can include articles, blogs, reviews, corporate information, forums, customer service policy, the list goes on…

“This non-product content is a fantastic way of attracting and engaging customers when they’re not ready to buy,” says Shaun. “This additional content that may not have a direct effect on a purchase may be responsible for converting customers to advocates of your brand, making them more valuable than your standard one-time purchaser. Shaun highlights also that “if user-generated and non-product content is done right, it can also deliver fantastic SEO benefits. Developing non-product content that is of interest to your users is of massive benefit in your search engine campaign. Rather than trying to convince others to link to your web pages, non-commercial content written in a unique way can act as natural link bait, saving your search team a lot of time chasing links.”

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